Washington, DC

“Dear PoPville,

I’m wondering if anyone in the community has used the new Hybrid internet/mail service that the DC DMV has introduced for titling and registering vehicles purchased through private sales?

I’ll be buying an out-of-state vehicle through a private sale in about a month and wondering if anyone has tried out this process. Has this been easy? Does the registration arrive in a timely manner? Any pitfalls I should look out for? Anything I can do on this process before actually taking possession of the car (I doubt it)? This certainly beats hunting for an appointment, but I’m afraid it is too good to be true!”

another reader writes about his experience buying a used car:

“I wanted to let your DC readers know that if at all possible, they should avoid buying a used car in a private sale right now. The DC DMV’s titling process is a nightmare. The day I bought my used vehicle, I tried to get an in-person appointment, and there were none. Then I learned they have an online process (great!) so I filled out the form and FedEx’d the Maryland title. I heard absolutely nothing for a week, then today I got a message saying “your application does not match the information that DC DMV received with your Title,” and they’re sending it back to me. No indication which information didn’t match so I can correct it, no phone number I can call (the DMV number actually just redirects to the 311 menu), no one responding to e-mails or Twitter DMs. Thinking this is never going to work, I checked back and was lucky enough to get an in-person appointment (apparently they open slots every Tuesday). But the appointment is for April. So I’m going to have a car I can’t drive, with no license plate and no registration, sitting in the street in front of my house for a month because the DMV is working at like 5% capacity. I’m sure they’ll still do a thorough job collecting the fees and excise tax though! Oh, and all this is just for the temporary tags/title. I’ll still have to take the vehicle for inspection, and then register it.

There is nothing on the DMV’s website or anywhere else indicating what a mess this process is, so I just thought I’d send you my experience. If anyone has any suggestions on how to handle this better, that would be great!”

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